Svenska Nyheter -- October 11, 1904Swedish-American Singers and Musicians
This column is devoted to singers and choir leaders, and today we will present the beloved baritone and choir director, Joel Mossberg.
Those Chicago Swedes who occasionally glance at a Swedish newspaper must have run across the name a few times, and those who have attended even a few of our local concerts must have seen the man. Or, to put it briefly, hardly any of our Swedish-American singers in Chicago is more popular than Joel Mossberg. During the last few years, no Swedish concert of any importance could be presented without his participation.
Even in his choice of a birthplace, Mossberg showed his good taste, selecting the beautiful Kumle Parish in Nerike, Sweden, where he first saw the light of day on January 30, 1870. His father, Karl Mossberg, was a musician in the Nerike Infantry Regiment Band, as was his father and grandfather before him.
Young Joel early displayed a talent for music, and began to play the flute and 2the violin. At the age of eighteen, he moved to Visby, on the island of Gotland, where he worked as an ornamental decorator, and continued to practice his music; he also directed the choir of a Good Templar lodge. The "Gotlanders" are a musical people, and Mossberg enjoyed his sojourn on their island. However, he decided to shake the Swedish dust off his feet, and in 1892 set out for Chicago. Here he continued to work at his trade, and studied voice and singing in his spare time, at first under W. W. Hinschou and later at the Chicago Musical College under the tutelage of his countryman, John R. Ortengren. He now gives this great teacher all the credit for developing his voice.
His remarkable vocal resources, as well as his artistic sensitiveness and understanding of nuances, were soon recognized at the College, and he made splendid progress. After having sung the part of "Raymond" in "Lucia di Lammermoor" before the critics of the academy, he was awarded a scholarship in the operatic department, on which he still studies.
For three years, Mr. Mossberg was choirmaster at St. Ansgar Church on Sedgwick Street, and is now in his fourth year as baritone soloist at the North Side 3Hebrew Temple. In addition, he directs the Orpheus, Idun, and Harmonien male choirs and the Illinois and Ingeborg women's choirs.
As a singer he has few equals, and it is quite in order to call him "the Swedish-American Forsell". His tone is full, well-rounded, and clear-ringing, and his interpretation, particularly of forceful and lively compositions, is excellent. One of his favorite numbers is the magnificent composition, "The Sea King", in which his resourceful voice comes fully into its own, and his unforgettable bass-baritone holds the audience spellbound. The future is his; his voice is still improving and his popularity is increasing.
The number of choirs which he is directing may well be taken as a measure of his ability; everybody able to speak with authority on the subject agrees that he is one of the finest choir leaders in Chicago. He gives generously of his time and talent, even to the extent of himself taking over, if need be, the voices ranging between first tenor and second bass. His reputation as a song teacher, practical as well as theoretical, has also brought him many private pupils.4
In spite of his artistic achievements, Mr. Mossberg's hat still fits his head; he is a modest man, and with the true artist's love for his work, his chief ambition is to improve and to come a bit closer to unattainable perfection. Through his friendly association with the members of his choirs, he wins their confidence and co-operation, and succeeds in impressing upon them the fact that the performance of the choir as a whole depends upon the efforts of the individual.
As a private song teacher, he also gains the affection and confidence of his pupil, bringing out the best he has got in him, and making him realize that he himself must walk the long, steep road to success, with the teacher guiding him only across the roughest spots.
We salute Mr. Mossberg, a true artist:
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